The Victorian Government is investing $6M into an online mental health service for young Victorians

The Victorian Government is investing $6M into an online mental health service for young Victorians

Young people struggling with their mental health both during and after the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access targeted, personalised therapy with an innovative new program funded by the Victorian Government.

Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Mental Health Martin Foley earlier this week to launch Orygen’s new digital mental health platform for young people coined ‘MOST – Moderated Online Social Therapy’ – an online tool which allows young people to access tailored online therapy and peer support, when and where they need it.

While staying at home and limiting physical interaction is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, these measures can also have an adverse impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing – particularly for those already experiencing mental health conditions.

The platform aims to combat this, providing young people with access to tailored online therapy, clinician and peer support, when and where they need it.

“MOST delivers a range of advanced online treatment options that are customisable to the needs of individual young people and are fully integrated with the face-to-face clinical care a young person is receiving,” Professor Mario Alvarez-Jimenez explains. Professor Alvarez-Jimenez and his team have been working on this development for the past 10 years. Designed with, and for, young people and youth mental health services, MOST provides services and clinicians with evidence-based tools that can be used across the mental health diagnostic and severity spectrum and all stages of treatment.

“The platform also includes a social networking aspect that connects young people facing the same challenges and enables them to support each other while accessing support from peer and clinical moderators.”

In April the Victorian Government, as part of its coronavirus mental health package, provided $6 million to Orygen to roll-out MOST across state-funded child and adolescent youth mental health services and all Victorian headspace centres. The platform is now being made available to young people in the north and west of Melbourne who are clients of Orygen and will shortly be available to clients of the five headspace centres Orygen operates in Craigieburn, Glenroy, Melton, Sunshine and Werribee.

“This is an anxious and uncertain time for everyone,” Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said.

“Investing in people’s mental health and wellbeing will not only save lives but is critical to our social and economic recovery after this crisis is over.”

Young people who live in public housing – in some of Melbourne’s hardest hit areas – will also be among the first to benefit from access to MOST, with tenants able to be referred directly by their headspace or mental health clinician.

It will be progressively rolled out across the state to all 28 Victorian headspace centres and 14 state-funded specialist youth mental health services by mid-2021.

“It’s groundbreaking because it will also allow young people to get continuous integrated face-to-face care from home,” Christine Couzens, State member for Geelong, says.

“We know staying apart is keeping us together in this pandemic. However, we can’t let that be detrimental to the mental health of our young people. That’s why this is so important.”

Through the recent coronavirus mental health support package, the Victorian Government has invested more than $19 million in targeted mental health and psychosocial supports for young people and another $6.7 million has also expanded online and phone counselling services for Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Suicide Line Victoria.

The Victorian Government has also announced a range of wellbeing resources which include simple wellbeing activities, and video tips developed in partnership with the Melbourne Football Club, while Smiling Mind will also produce resources for senior secondary students to support their mental health and wellbeing. Secondary school students can access counselling via a voice call or video conference through the headspace counselling partnership or via their school-based mental health practitioner.

The Victorian Government has also recently invested an additional $19.5 million in funding to deliver essential reform recommendations from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System interim report, including specialist Youth Hospital in the Home bed-based services.

For more information on the platform, visit the Orygen website.